Australian society today has been affected to quite a large degree by sectarianism.
Australia today, has many different religious faiths as evidenced by the number of churches, mosques, temples and synagogues. Today, there are also schools, hospitals and organisations associated with various religious communities. Among these Christianity has been predominant.
Australian society, since 1788 has been predominantly influenced by Christianity- the religion of the first European settlers. Christianity has made a significant impact on the way Australia has developed socially and culturally. Immigration in the second half on the 20th centaury brought more religious and cultural diversity to the Catholic Church. The Church of England had the greatest initial non-indigenous religious influence in Australia, through the appointment of Anglicans as chaplains to the penal colony of N.S.W. In 1820, however, two catholic chaplains were allowed to enter the colony.
Christianity has been the dominant religion since European-Australian history began.
It has had a major and all pervasive influence on Australian society. It has impacted on manu facets of Australian society such as, education, public morality, social welfare and politics.
Christian denominations made a significant contribution to education and received financial support even though Governor Bourke, in 1830, attempted to set up a single educational system. Gradually state aid was withdrawn from church schools (around 1862). The NSW Public Instruction Act in 1880 set up a 'free, compulsory and secular' education system. Catholics believed that religion could not be separated from life and insisted on their own schools. As did the Church of England. Mary Mackillop, and her order of nuns, the sisters of St Joesph, taught in schools. The catholic ideal was to have primary and secondary schools to meet the needs of the parents. The fact that governments would not use any of their education budget to help catholic schools caused deep resentment. In turn the catholic rejection and criticism of state schools fanned the fires of antagonism within the general community.
Catholics went through a hard financial struggle. In 1962, a catholic primary school in Goulbourn was threaten with closure because of its inability to meet the Department of Educations demands of an extra seat in the boys toiltes. It was decided to close the school for 6 weeks, and 2000 children would present themselves for enrolement at klocal government schools. The Goulbourn school 'strike' demonstrated the refusal of Catholic parents to give up their schools. Prime minister Menzies offered state aid to catholic schools before the 1963 election, which he then won. The stae government granted direct aid to pupils in independent schools.
Apart from the organisation of the year around a christian calandar, and the celebration of easter and Christmas being the main holidays celebrated, Christians have striven to promote their moral viewpoint on family life, sexuality, gambling, divorse and pulic drunkeness. The churches have sought to promote land rights for indigenous Australians , maintain Sunday as a holy day- a day of rest, and oppose the relaxation of censorship laws. Through out Australian history, the churches remained in fundamental agreement in how social and moral virtues of temperance, charity and the family. Many of these attitudes, that are taken for granted today, were dealt with or arose in the colonial Australia through christianitys influence.
In the early years, the clergy considered that one of their roles was the eleavtion of moral standards of the convict community. Another by the protestants, they believed that Sunday was not only a day worship, but a day of rest. Therefor all work and worldly activities must cease on the day of the Sabbath. They opposite gradual movemnts after 1870 to introduce Sunday entertainment. They considered this necessary for the preservation of Ausrlia as a christian community. At first they influenced the governmentn legislation, but gradually the popularity of Sunday amusements prevailed. These outcomes point socieites increasing secularism. Therewas also diversity of the opinoin on these issues among Christians- many argued that legislation was nt thre best way to influenced public morality.
Social welfare is another key area in which the Christianity interralated with the social and cultural environment. Christain charatable intitutions included orphanages, hospitals and prisioner rehabilitaion cebters. Women played a key role in a lot of these organistations Eg. Catholic woman, Caroline Chilsholm worked tirelessly for the immigrant population. She started employement agencies for women. The late 1860s saw the Aglican Bust brotherhoods, who began misitering effectively across far-flung districts of the outback. There were many christain institutions to help with social welfare. The salvos, st Vincent de paul, central metodist mission for example. Which still exist today.
Another area where Sectarianism made a graet impact was the conscription debate. World war one was a time of bitterness and division in which religion was just one element in the combination of class political and ethical factors. In 1916, the labour prime minister billy hughes endeavoured to intro duce compulsory overseas military service. Which was again the wishes of the majority of his pary and tade unionists. The oppostion and press supported his view. The churh of Engalnd saw I as their duty to stimulate robust patriotiam and supported conscription, However catholic Daniel mannix became the chief speaker against it The conscrition issue added fuel to the fire of sectarianism. The Australian people narrowly rejected conscription twice at plebiscites in 1916 and 17.